Steve Bruce has urged wounded Newcastle to soothe their Carabao Cup disappointment with a Premier League victory over Watford to complete a “wonderful” start to his reign.
The Magpies bowed out of the season’s first domestic cup competition on Wednesday as Leicester won a penalty shoot-out after a 1-1 draw at St James’ Park, with the Magpies’ injury list having grown significantly in the process.
Coming three days after a creditable 1-0 win at Tottenham, that represented a disappointment for a head coach who had vowed to target the cups this season, but back-to-back league victories would put a smile back on his face.
Bruce said: “If we can get to six points, that will be a wonderful start for us. That’s been my aim.
“The players, since I walked through the door – apart from a horrible performance at Norwich – have tuned into what we’re trying to do.
“As I said, defensively we look rock-solid. We have got to still improve offensively with the ball, but hopefully that will come.”
Without frontmen Allan Saint-Maximin, Miguel Almiron and Joelinton, Bruce saw his resources depleted further by injuries to Emil Krafth, Jetro Willems and Matt Ritchie, who needed stitches in his ankle after a challenge by Hamza Choudhury.
His dismay was further compounded when, after Yoshinori Muto had cancelled out James Maddison’s deflected opener, Kasper Schmeichel saved spot-kicks from Jonjo Shelvey and Isaac Hayden to put the Foxes through 4-2 on penalties.
Shelvey said: “I want to apologise to the fans for missing the penalty. It was a shocking penalty on my behalf. I won’t be taking them any more.”
Leicester will face Sky Bet Championship club Luton in the third round with assistant manager Chris Davies confident there is more to come from them.
Asked about the club’s four-game unbeaten start to the season, Brendan Rodgers’ number two said: “It’s been good and we can get better, which is the exciting part.
“We can definitely get better, and Brendan has just said that to the players there. We are happy to have won the game, but I think in our general play, especially with the ball, we will get better and that’s exciting for everyone.”